Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering: Mobilizing the Community for Change
The "Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering: Mobilizing the Community for Change" project carried out by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) seeks to identify the critical components of engineering curricula, pedagogy, and educational culture necessary to support the education of engineers over the next decades of the 21st century. Technology has radically changed the world we live in and engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and technologists have been central to these developments. Technology has also transformed the typical engineering workplace and practice. Practicing engineers working today have little need for many of the facts and methodologies that were essential just a decade ago and now require skills and knowledge not previously anticipated. Engineering education has not kept pace with changes caused by technology. Content, pedagogy, and university culture have remained relatively static, and although there have been some changes, the most common engineering classroom is still a passive lecture. The project intends to catalyze change by building broad and thorough consensus within the engineering community on a shared vision of the future of engineering education. The project will enumerate critical steps for the vision to be achieved and will coordinate the pursuit of each critical step throughout the engineering education community.
The current project will focus on Phases II and III of a planned four-phase process. In Phase I of the project, "Synthesizing and Integrating Industry Perspectives," ASEE brought together industry and academic representatives for an intensive exploration of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed in engineering today and in the coming years by the primary customer of engineering education, namely employers. This group found the engineering profession and the abilities of engineering graduates under pressure from several directions, with current training viewed as pursing a trajectory that may lag behind the technological demands of the nation in 2024. Areas of growing importance include: project management, effective product development, system integration, leadership, communication, and the ability to merge engineering, business, and societal priorities. Building on these findings, Phase II will involve students from diverse fields of engineering, representing the demographic diversity of the student body, and reflecting institutional diversity in terms of Carnegie classification and geographical location, to render the perspective of the primary consumer of engineering education. Phase III of the project will then involve input from professional societies and selected Federal agencies. Individuals representing professional organizations will be invited to provide their feedback and observations on the state of engineering careers and educational programs. Results from all three phases will provide an up-to-date assessment of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed in engineering today and in the next decade. That assessment and the findings on which it is based will be shared more widely with the STEM education community in a culminating activity involving a large group of invited stakeholders convened to create a flexible framework that fosters transformative changes to engineering curriculum, pedagogical approaches, and academic culture.